Letters: The politics of Keystone XL

Re “Obama’s pipeline dilemma,” Opinion, Feb. 12

Doyle McManus aptly points out several of the political pros and cons related to President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

What he fails to address is the need for fossil fuels to be left underground and for us to convert to renewables.

McManus suggests procrastination by Obama might be a virtue. The destruction of Canada’s boreal forest and the continued release of carbon into the atmosphere don’t qualify. Far more virtuous would be for Obama to follow through on his 2013 inauguration promise:


“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.... The path toward sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.”

Alby Quinlan


McManus provides an informative analysis of the politics of Obama’s pending decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. However, he fails to properly analyze the pipeline’s potential climate impacts.


McManus cites as a fact the State Department’s misleading conclusion that a U.S. decision to block the pipeline wouldn’t significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because Canada intends to move the oil whether Keystone XL is built or not.

Actually, the pipeline would make it cheaper to transport the oil, so the exploitation of the tar sands would accelerate, resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions in a shorter time.

McManus also proposes that the pipeline would be acceptable if its additional emissions were offset by cutting emissions elsewhere. That approach wouldn’t reduce emissions enough.

To moderate the alarming effects of climate change, we must both reject the Keystone XL pipeline and reduce emissions from our existing power plants.

John D. Kelley

Santa Barbara


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